Scum Light by Jerszy Seymour

Twenty-First Century icons: normal dezeen service will resume on Monday! Meanwhile, here's our final installation of chapters from Marcus' book, Twenty-First Century Design.

Date 2003
Designer Jerszy Seymour
Material Polyurethane foam

Produced in a limited edition of 100 in 2003, for a show at Paris exhibition venue Galerie Kreo, Scum light is part of a series of design projects by Berlin-based designer Jerszy Seymour involving sprayed polyurethane foam, a material usually used as insulation in the construction industry.


Seymour, however, has taken the plastic material – which expands to many times its original volume and hardens when sprayed from a special machine – and treated it as a craft material, creating “live" objects in much the same way that a glass-blower manipulates molten glass.

To create the lights, Seymour sprays foam over a hemispherical mould, a process that involves a great deal of skill. The unappealing appearance and name of the light belie the fact that Seymour is attempting to create a new visual language based on the honest use of an unusual material, rather than deliberately striving to create something ugly (he points out that the word “scum" has its origin in the latin word for “foaming"; the negative connotation is a later English introduction). In this way,
Seymour questions accepted notions of beauty.

Born in 1968, in Berlin, Seymour studied at the Royal College of Art in London. He operates at the margins of the design world, producing installations that are more akin to artworks, such as his 2001 Bonnie & Clyde car – a full-size polyurethane foam cast of a Ford Cortina, which he hollowed out to create a seating environment that was halfway between furniture and architecture.


His best known works include the 2000 Freewheelin Franklin table – a circular plastic tabletop mounted on the chassis of a remote controlled toy car – and Easy chair, a stacking, moulded plastic seat for Magis.

Other Scum projects by Seymour have included installations of lava- like flows of foam at design events around the world, a temporary Scum Skate Park in Tokyo and a self-build dwelling called House in a Box, which consists of an inflatable, removable mould complete with window and door voids, over which the user sprays polyurethane foam.

Once the foam hardens, the mould is removed and the resulting domed structure can be inhabited.


Taken from Twenty-First Century Design by Marcus Fairs, published by Carlton Books


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